(Ecofin Agency) - While 4G will remain the main driver of growth in the Sub-Saharan African mobile market by the end of the current decade, the GSMA expects 5G to capture 16% of all subscriptions by that time.
Smartphone adoption will reach 87% in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, up from 51% in 2022, according to the “The Mobile Economy 2023” report released on Feb. 27, 2023, by the Global System Operators and Manufacturers Association (GSMA).
The report estimates that sub-Saharan Africa is among the regions that will witness a sharp increase in smartphone adoption by the end of the current year, alongside Asia-Pacific and Latin America. The growth will be facilitated by the falling prices of these devices and the rising number of the young population; since most new cell phone users are digital natives, using their devices for multiple activities beyond traditional voice calls and SMS.
The worldwide smartphone adoption is expected to reach 92% by 2030, up from 76% in 2022. The report also reveals that average monthly mobile data traffic in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to nearly quadruple by 2028 to 18 gigabytes (GB) per user from 4.6 GB in 2022; However, it remains below the global average which will rise from 15 GB per user in 2022 to 45 GB in 2028. This growth in mobile data consumption will be driven by increased mobile broadband network coverage, smartphone affordability, and the development of mobile gaming and video streaming markets.
The GSMA also indicates that in Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of 5G subscriptions is expected to reach 213 million in 2030, representing 16% of all mobile subscriptions by that date, compared with only 1% in 2022.
A sharp decline in 2G and 3G subscriptions
4G will remain the main contributor to new subscriptions in the region until 2030. It is expected to account for around 47% of mobile subscriptions by that time, compared with 22% in 2022.
3G subscriptions will fall sharply from 55% in 2022 to 35% in 2030. 2G, which still accounted for 22% of total subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022, is also expected to decline rapidly as operators migrate their subscribers to 4G and 5G networks. Its share is expected to be limited to 2% of total subscriptions by the end of the current decade.
6.3 billion subscribers by 2030
According to the report, there were 5.4 billion unique mobile subscribers in the world, all network generations included, at the end of 2022. This figure is expected to reach 6.3 billion by 2030. Sub-Saharan Africa and India will account for nearly half of the world's new subscribers by the end of the decade, as other more mature markets approach saturation. In all regions, young people and rural populations will drive new subscriptions.
On another note, the GSMA expects the sector to generate 5% of global GDP by 2030, or $6 trillion in economic value added.